Photos and words by G.
Eric Clapton! The legendary rocker celebrated his 70th birthday (a bit late as his actual birthday is March 30) with a pair of sold out shows at New York’s Madison Square Garden. I attended the first show on May 1, 2015. I’ve seen nearly every living rock and roll legend in some fashion over the years, but this was my first glimpse of Eric Clapton, so you can imagine my excitement.
Saying very little to the crowd (aside from “thank yous” after each song), Eric Clapton brought out his first guest star 3 songs in – John Mayer. The two jammed on the song “Pretending.” For what Clapton lacked in saying in words, he sure made up for it by playing some amazing guitar solos all night that let you know without a doubt you made the right choice by attending the concert.
John Mayer was not the only guest of the night as Clapton also brought out Jimmie Vaughan, Doyle Bramhall II and Derek Trucks. Also in his band was Paul Carrack, who sang a few songs including “You Are So Beautiful.” Clapton also saluted Ben E. King, who died earlier in the day and dedicated “Driftin’ Blues” to him.
Aside from the absence of Cream songs, Eric Clapton played songs from all eras of his career from “Can’t Find My Way Home” by Blind Faith to the acoustic rendition of “Layla” that he’d made famous decades earlier with his group Derek and the Dominoes. He also played “Tears in Heaven,” which resulted in tears in Madison Square Garden from the audience as the song is about the death of his child.
Other highlights of the night were covers of “Nobody Knows You When You’re Down and Out,” “Cross Road Blues” “Hoochie Coochie Man” as well as “I Shot The Sheriff” and “Cocaine.” You can imagine how cool it was to have the whole of Madison Square Garden shout out in unison – “COCAINE!” The show ended with an all star jam on the Joe Cocker cover “High Time We Went.” Eric Clapton told the audience that this was the best birthday he’s ever had and with that, the 2 hour show was over.
The setlist was:
Somebody’s Knocking / Keys to the Highway / Pretending (with John Mayer) / Hoochie Coochie Man / You Are So Beautiful (with Paul Carrack) / Can’t Find My Way Home (with Nathan East) / I Shot The Sheriff / Driftin’ Blues (acoustic) / Nobody Knows You When You’re Down and Out (acoustic) / Tears In Heaven (acoustic) / Layla (acoustic) / Before You Accuse Me (with Jimmie Vaughan) / Wonderful Tonight / Let it Rain (with Derek Trucks and Doyle Brahmhall II) / Cross Road Blues / Little Queen of Spades / Cocaine.
Encore: High Time We Went (all star jam)